Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which sperm are placed directly into the uterine cavity using a very small catheter around the time of ovulation. This procedure is most commonly performed when there are problems with the sperm, such as low count or low motility, or an incompatibility between the sperm and the cervical mucus. It can also be performed to overcome problems associated with a man’s inability to ejaculate inside the woman’s vagina due to impotence, premature ejaculation or other medical conditions. IUI increases the chances of pregnancy because the sperm are placed directly in the uterus, bypassing the cervix and improving the delivery and increasing the number of sperm reaching the egg.
IUIs can be performed either with the partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. It is recommended that the patient abstain from sexual intercourse for two to three days before the procedure. In some cases, it may be necessary for the female to take medication to induce ovulation if her cycles are not regular. The male will provide a semen sample one to two hours before the procedure is to be performed. The semen will be washed, a procedure in which the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid and the quality of the sperm is analyzed. Following the wash, it is time for the insemination procedure, which only takes a few minutes and does not cause much, if any, discomfort for the female. The doctor will insert a small catheter into the uterine cavity through the cervix and inject sperm directly into the uterus. The patient is able to resume normal activity immediately following the IUI procedure. If pregnancy does not result from the initial IUI, the procedure may be repeated during the following cycles.